Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Irish immigrant Nathaniel Williamson was owner of Williamson’s Store, “Idaho’s Price Maker and Pace Setter”. Williamson’s Store was located in the McConnell Building, occupying all three floors plus units in an adjoining building, with goods ranging from furniture, ladies’ wear, millinery and dressmaking, to men’s wear, dry goods and shoes. Units in the adjacent building housed a restaurant, grocery and hardware store (LCHS Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. 5. No. 3, 1976, “Williamson’s Store” by Frank Williamson & Dick d’Easum 15-23).
Williamson’s Store had been preceded by The Boston store and then The Greater Boston store. With the culmination of his store’s expansion, Williamson’s was the only store with a passenger elevator, and an electric sign that was almost the full height of the building. The glowing ornament at the top of the sign was “visible from the summit of Viola grade and became a landmark of Moscow” (Williamson & d’Easum, 17). The second and third floors of the store were open, looking down to the ground floor. Taking advantage of the open area, Williamson’s installed a large tree every Christmas that would occupy the height of the space. Contests were held to determine the height of the tree.
Nathaniel’s showmanship extended to his advertising as well. “Business [at Williamson’s] was brisk, particularly at special events he whooped up for the Fourth of July, fall fairs and January white sales. Fairs at The Boston were the forerunner of the Latah County Fair. He staged street parades, gave prizes for vegetables, flowers and horses, and conducted contests for old and young” (Williamson & d’Easum, 17). The first of the “Great Fall Fairs” began around 1908, with the expansion of the Boston Store into The Greater Boston (“A Great Good Country” by Lillian Otness, 30).
Nathaniel Williamson was one of the area’s early entrepreneurs. After closing the Williamson store, he bred pedigreed cattle and operated several farms and farm related businesses.